3 Motorhome Classes: The Difference Between Class A, B, & C RVs
By Kelly Beasley
Isn't it a bummer that learning about motorhome classes isn't easier??
(Thank you, long ago anonymous person that decided to name an RV type by using the ABCs. Eye roll.)
There's just no easy way to remember which is which. (It wasn't for me, anyway.)
If you come up with some easy way for people to remember which is which, PLEASE tell us in the comments section below!
Below we will explain the difference between RV classes. Specifically, we will be answering the question, "What are the different classes of motorhomes?"
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The Three Motorhome Classes
Anyway, here's the deal. There are three motorhome classifications:
- Class A
- Class B
- Class C
The categorizing into a 'class' ONLY applies to a recreational vehicle with an engine. Therefore, RV classes only apply to motorhomes.
(Yes, there are subcategories now, the 'B+' and the 'Super C.')
None of the other classes of RV specify the actual type by using the word 'class.'
Only MOTORHOMES are classified.
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The difference between Class A, B, and C motorhomes include external appearances, the chassis used, maneuverability, cargo capacities, and more.
Let's figure out the RV class differences and teach you a thing or two!
Don't forget rule number one: ONLY motorhomes fall into these class categories. Pull-behind campers do not.
The only recreational vehicles that are 'classified' are motorhomes - campers that you can drive.
If an RV is 'classified' or has a 'class,' it has a built-in engine.
Again, there are ONLY three motorhome classifications: Class A, B, and C.
Now, let's go over the difference between Class A, B, and C RVs.
Identify Classes Of Motorhomes By Shape
Let's talk about the different motorhome classes because visually, the SHAPE IS how you can most easily identify a unique motorhome's class.
Sure, the structural bits about each also define RV classes, which we will go into later.
But first, let's simplify it by identifying a motorhome class upon looks alone.
Let's objectify these suckers! Motorhome classes explained simply:
- A = Big rectangle on wheels
- B = A van
- C = Motorhome with a sleeping space that extends over the driver's cab
Class A Motorhome - 'Box On Wheels'
The unforgettable TV show Breaking Bad... that was a Class A motorhome. Walter used it as a rolling meth lab at the beginning of the memorable binge-worthy series. (Fun fact- in season 3, Walter calls the RV a Class C, which is incorrect.)
It was an old one, and it had a sloping windshield instead of the more popular/identifiable vertical type.
Regardless, it was a box on wheels.
Also, the movie RV with Robin Williams. That was a Class A as well but with the more common flat/vertical front.
Even Cousin Eddie's RV in the classic movie 'Christmas Vacation'- that was also a Class A, albeit a very unique looking one!
The Class A motorhome is likely what you picture when you think 'RV.'
They are the least aerodynamic thing invented for travel, possibly ever. Motorhome sizes range from 25-45 feet long, with little to no aerodynamic shape.
These units start as a bare chassis. Usually, they are made beginning with Ford (Gas engines) or Freightliner (Diesel engines) chassis. Then the motorhome manufacturers will build the living quarters box and its contents on top.
Size can be an issue with these models (They're big). Trips can cost a lot due to the high cost of the RV itself, larger/more expensive campground spots, and fuel costs due to poor gas mileage. Class A motorhomes have the worst fuel economy between RV Class A, B, & C, whether gas or diesel.
Class A motorhomes are the largest and most expensive RVs in the bunch
Some advantages are that they offer the most luxuries for the best family vacation experience money can buy. This class is frequently the top choice for people looking for the best RV to live in year round.
Class A motorhomes are typically huge, so they are challenging to maneuver. Because of their design and being built on what is essentially a commercial bus chassis, basement storage space is usually ample.
The Class A motorhome comes equipped with a master bedroom, living area, toilet, shower, full kitchen, and sometimes even two bath area toilets and even a washer and dryer.
Space is often BIG in these monsters, and you may have up to 5 TVs in one unit. They can get as crazy as you can imagine, for that matter.
Larger ones have up to four RV slide-outs, which expand the living area.
If you can imagine it, you can probably find it in the most decked-out Class A RVs.
The price tag for the Class A motorhome lifestyle is high as they are usually full of luxury and many comforts. You can pay just under $100,000 to well over $1,000,000 for this class of motorhome.
- Largest of the three classes
- Shaped like a box/rectangle
- Often the priciest
- Length: Around 28 to 45 feet
Class B Motorhome - 'Camper Van'
Scooby-Dooby-Doo!!! Yeah, the Mystery Machine was a Class B motorhome. It was a van.
The Mystery Machine should help you get the gist of what a Class B RV looks like compared to the A or the C. Everyone knows what the Mystery Machine looks like!
Simply put, Class B motorhomes are vans made into a camper.
The Class B motorhome is usually far smaller than a Class A and can get better gas mileage.
These vehicles are usually small, but not always. They range around 19 to 27 feet long.
Class B motorhomes are the smallest, but they certainly aren't much (or any) cheaper than a Class A or C.
This class of motorhome either starts its life in one of two ways:
- A shell of a complete cargo van, usually a Sprinter, Ram, or Ford Transit. (regular Class B motorhome, like the one pictured above.)
- OR, they (the Class B+) start as just the cutaway chassis of one of those vans. This means they start with the front end of the cab (driver area) with only the chassis attached. The 'butt' of the vehicle is open/empty. The builder then constructs the living space on top of the chassis. (Class B+ motorhome)
These camper vans typically have all the accommodations necessary for a fun, complete camping trip.
What's a B+?
The newer termed 'B+' van is a motorhome that started life on a bare van chassis. Then the manufacturer builds the living area 'box' on top of that.
They are usually larger and wider than a traditional B because there is no already built van body to constrain them.
TECHNICALLY, the B+ is a Class C camper but doesn't have the sleeping area over the driver compartment like a Class C does.
Amenities usually include the typical household needs- a refrigerator, a sleeping space, sink, bathroom, and a cooktop.
You can find everything in larger campers here, just in a smaller space.
It may lack a permanent dining area due to the smaller size.
These campervans can journey just about anywhere. Travelers easily cross the country in a Class B van while fitting in smaller spaces than their larger cousins. This class of RV is sought after for these reasons.
Class B motorhomes are usually pretty compact, so they are better with fuel efficiency. However, they are still very pricey, so they are not for tiny budgets. Costs range from under $100,000 to the high $200,000's and more.
- A van that has been converted into a camper
- Smallest of the classes
- Best gas mileage
- Usually pretty complete in amenities
- Length: Around 19 to 22 feet
Class B vs Class C RV
What is the difference between a Class B and Class C motorhome? There are two main differences: Size and construction methods.
The Class B is a camper van that starts life as a bare commercial van shell with living quarters installed inside the existing four walls.
Class C RVs are a blank canvas, starting life with only the driver compartment and bare chassis behind. A complete (walls, roof, and floor) living structure is built upon this.
Where does a B+ fit into the picture? What is the difference between a Class B+ and a Class C?
Getting down to the nitty-gritty, Class B+ RV doesn't exist, and it's a marketing term.
There is no official B+ class of RV - just B.
The Class B+ motorhome designation was invented by a manufacturer that wanted to differentiate its product from Class C's.
And it makes sense. Allow me to explain.
Technically, Class B+ and Class C are the same things in that they both start life as a cutaway van chassis and then have the living quarters built behind the driver's compartment.
Both these RV styles have a section of the living quarters that extends over the driver's cab (called a cab-over).
The difference is that a Class C cab-over is large enough, and built to, have a sleeping area.
The Class B+ has a much smaller cab-over, and it's much more streamlined. It isn't designed to sleep in.
Instead, it's used as a storage area or entertainment cabinet (or both).
Length plays a factor in the difference between Class B vs Class C RV (or B+ vs. C).
The B+ is the longer of the B's but usually is not over 25 feet long as it is built on a chassis that doesn't support long, heavy bodies.
Class C's are typically built on the Ford E-Series full-size van platform, which allows them to be heavier and longer, up to 36 feet. Though you can get a small Class C RV that is well under 30 feet long.
Class C Motorhome - 'Van Chassis'
I can't think of a single famous Class C motorhome. However, this is the typical type you see advertised as a rental.
There's a good reason for that. (More living space than a Class B RV, easier to drive than a Class A.)
The Class C motorhome is USUALLY sized in between a B and an A. It isn't very clear, yes. As you can see, there's no logic in the letters that name the RV classes A B C.
The identifying exterior style of this motorhome size is TYPICALLY the sleeping/storage area over the driver's cab.
BUT, what classifies an RV to be a Class C is that they build it on top of a van cutaway chassis (essentially a commercial truck chassis with the rear removed).
Then the manufacturer builds the living quarters onto it.
Class C motorhomes begin life as a bare van chassis
Gas mileage varies per model but expect to get something between the A and the B.
With more beds that increase the sleeping options, families with children often go for these Class C RVs.
Expect to find all of the primary living necessities in a Class C RV.
They sport a kitchen, usually a permanent dining area, closet space, decent cargo capacity, a refrigerator, bathroom, and often more than one sleeping area.
Because they offer an excellent combination of living space, amenities, the ability to go most places, and relative affordability, the Class C is a popular choice for motorized campers.
Class C motorhomes range anywhere between the cost of a B or an A and can vary wildly. It depends on how large you go and what level of comforts and luxury interior you want.
A basic model can be had for close to $100,000, while a more luxurious version will set you back over $300,000.
What's A Super C?
The Super C is a Class C RV that started on not a van chassis but on a medium-duty truck cutaway chassis (typically a Freightliner). Their front end looks like that of a semi.
Sometimes smaller ones use a heavy-duty truck chassis (such as a Ford Heavy Duty).
They are bigger and longer than a regular C. We like to say that they are a Class C 'on steroids.'
- Starts life as a van cutaway chassis
- Often identified by the area over the cab
- Sized in between most A's and B's
- Price: still expensive but more affordable than most Class A's
- Length: approximately 24 to 36 feet
Class A vs Class C Motorhome
Class A and Class C RVs are most similar in style among the three different motorhome types.
So what is the difference between Class A and Class C RV?
The major difference between a Class C RV and a Class A RV is the rig's front end.
The rear (living area) is constructed very similarly and has the same furnishings and amenities.
Because a Class C is based on a cutaway chassis, it has a full-frontal structure (just as a van or truck would).
This means that it will do much better in a crash than a Class A motorhome, which has no substantial front structure.
Or consider a roll-over accident - in a Class A RV, you have a puny wall and roof, whereas a Class C has a complete automotive structure around you in the cab area.
When trying to tell apart the different class motorhomes, you can usually make a visual identification rather quickly once you understand the difference in RV classes.
Only motorhomes (RVs with engines built-in) are 'classed.'
- Class A's are the largest and offer the most storage.
- Class B's are vans. They are typically the smallest motorhomes and are built inside a regular cargo van.
- Class C's are built on a bare van chassis, and they usually have storage or a sleeping area over the driver's cab.
- Class B+ is technically a Class C but doesn't have the over-cab sleeping area. B+ vans are built on a bare van chassis but are often larger than regular vans.
- Super C's are Class C vans built onto a medium or heavy-duty bare chassis such as Ford or Freightliner. They are Class C's on steroids.
Identifying them is sometimes tricky, but with a bit of experience, they are mostly all identifiable by their shape and size.
I hope this helped you to understand what are the classes of motorhomes!
Once again, if you have a clever way for others to learn, which is an A, B, or C, please sound off in the comments!
Author: Kelly Beasley
As a seasoned and passionate RVing expert, I have dedicated myself to living the full-time RV life for over 5.5 years, immersing myself in the unique quirks and joys of the boondocking lifestyle and gaining a wealth of knowledge and experience along the way. In December 2020, my business partner and I made the transition to part-time RVing, but in January 2023, we hit the road once again, this time in our trusty vans. My mission is to help others embrace the RVing lifestyle with confidence and excitement, armed with the knowledge and resources needed to make the most of their adventures. I believe that the more you know, the more you can truly appreciate and enjoy the freedom and flexibility of the open road. Join me on this journey and let's make some unforgettable memories.